IT | Security

National Smartphone Theft Prevention Act Unveiled

By: Absolute Team | 2/14/2014

Following the introduction of Bill 962 in California, which would require enabled "kill switch" technology in all smartphones,  U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Blumenthal, and Mazie Hirono this week introduced legislation at the Federal level that would require "kill switch" technology on smartphones. 

The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, Senate Bill 2032, would "require mobile service providers and mobile device manufacturers to give consumers the ability to remotely delete data from mobile devices and render such devices inoperable," unless reactivated by the owner.

“Cell phone theft has become a big business for thieves looking to cash in on these devices and any valuable information they contain, costing consumers more than $30 billion every year and endangering countless theft victims,” Senator Klobuchar said. “This legislation will help eliminate the incentives for criminals to target smartphones by empowering victims to take steps to keep their information private, protect their identity and finances, and render the phone inoperable to the thieves.”

The legislation is being promoted as a way for consumers to be "in control of their cell phone data" by having the ability to "immediately disable a stolen phone," which is where our issue with this type of legislation lays. Although we agree that crime, often violent crime, is skyrocketing as the result of mobile devices, and that consumers should have tools to protect their data, it is short sighted to immediately disable stolen devices. Why?

We talk more about why the "kill switch" is not an ideal stand-alone solution to mobile theft here.

In addition to this Bill, we've also recently seen New York introduce legislation that would require retailers to prove they're the rightful owners of the phones they sell and receipts (including serial number) for sold devices, and have seen momentum in the Mobile Theft Deterrence Act, which would make tampering with the IMEI of a cell phone a Federal crime.